Ten Types of People I Avoid for Sanity’s Sake

Over the years, I have learned to ask these traveling hucksters if they have a minute to hear about apostolic succession which usually gives me enough time to slam the door in their faces.

  1. The Know-It-All:

Cliff Clavin

We’ve all met this type. Say for example you’re heavy into a conversation with a theoretical physicist at a dinner party or a barbeque (what? it could happen…). Out of nowhere comes the Cliff Clavin in sheep’s clothing, espousing all kinds of nonsense he’s read on the internet (and we know it must be true if it’s on the internet, right?). He’s not afraid to go to toe with specialists in a field like astrophysics, having memorized names like Einstein, Feynman, Greene, and the ubiquitous Neil de Grasse Tyson from whose television series Cosmos he will quote from diligently but never give proper credit where it’s due. And it doesn’t stop at theoretical physics. These people are shameless. The Know-It-Alls, or KIAs, understand the basic workings of everything under the sun. Just ask them. They will tell you, going on ad nauseum if you let them. KIAs will tell a carpenter how to frame out a house without having taken a wood shop class much less worked in construction. Ditto for writing books. Never mind that the KIA couldn’t string a sentence together if his life depended on it, but he will tell you all you need to know about what constitutes a good novel and what tropes one should avoid in storytelling.

  1. The Eternal Questioner:


The EQ (Eternal Questioner) is often a friend or a colleague whose sentences conclude with an upending inflection that turns even the most demonstrative statement into a question. Example: “If my boss doesn’t get off my back, I am going to quit this job?”

  1. The Closed Loop:


The best place to encounter this breed is in their natural habitat called Facebook. They are known to prowl other social media as well; such as Twitter. Loopers, as I like to call them, seem utterly unaware of any other positions with regard to politics, religion, life, the universe, everything. They will never entertain someone else’s point of view; no matter how well-informed someone outside their closed loop of thinking might be. They are the ones who complain about neighborhoods changing (read: minorities moving in to their once-predominately white neighborhood), they are the ones who have it on good authority that President Barack Obama is in fact a high-level member of Al Qaeda sent to these United States to ruin our country , and they cannot accept any idea that threatens the very foundation of their otherwise limited perception of reality.

  1. The Blindly Devoted, Serial Alien Contactees, and Other Assorted Creepoids:

tinfoil hats

This would include Jehovah Witnesses and anyone else compelled to go to door-to-door to dole out conversion. Over the years, I have learned to ask these traveling hucksters if they have a minute to hear about apostolic succession which usually gives me enough time to slam the door in their faces. I am equally suspicious of those who commune directly with angels, extra-dimensional entities, or dare I say even God. Seriously. Whenever someone mutters “Because the Bible tells me so,” I generally back away calmly and vacate the area.

  1. The Perennial Conspiracy Nut:


At some point in their lives, Perennial Conspiracy Nuts, or PCNs, were in touch with reality (at least the reality that rational people share); but this is no longer the case. The average PCN is out of touch—typically with their family and often the most basic of human needs. PCNs know all about The Illuminati, UFOs, 9/11, the JFK Assassination, and those pesky lenticular clouds they often mistake for chem trails. Plenty of theory to go around, but no hard evidence…ever.

  1. The Self-Proclaimed Gifted Writer:


Any writer my age or younger who openly professes to other writers my age or younger to be better than the following writers:

  1. Vladimir Nabokov
  2. Flannery O’Connor
  3. Joyce Carol Oates
  4. Robert Stone
  5. Dorothy Allison
  6. Thomas Pynchon

etc, etc.

  1. The Henry Rollins Is a Literary God Mob:


This includes anyone who thinks Henry Rollins spoken word work is better than the aforementioned writers in #6. One only needs to visit the homes of these types and see the lack of books in their possession to know just how badly they have been duped.

  1. Tea Baggers in All of Their Full Tea Baggery:

tea party npr

  1. Militant Femi-Nazis:


Really, we get it. Please just stop.

  1. Animal Rights Nuts:


This would include anyone with an affiliation to any number of animal advocacy/rights groups whose position on the homeless problem in this country (and around the world) is for said homeless to get a job and their troubles would be over. How anyone can advocate for the rights of animals but turn a blind eye to the homeless, as if they are someone else’s problem, is beyond me. Perhaps one day rescued animals will turn on their masters, and the homeless can move into the vacated domeciles of the recently departed.

Mars or Bust: UFOs, Space Travel and My Son

So I am watching one of these UFO shows on either History Channel or Discovery. Like so many people I am duped into viewing these programs thinking I might learn something new. Of course, if there was something that important in a UFO program’s content I like to think that it would headline news everywhere. I guess I am optimistic on that sense. My 12 year old son is little more earthy than his old man.

A few weeks ago my son and I watched a similar program. Eyewitness accounts of UFOs, cattle mutilations, abductions, the full gamut. The show lasted an hour. When it was over my son turned to me.

“Nah,” he said.

“Nah what?” I asked.

“It’s the distance, dad,” my son said. “I can’t get past the distances. It just doesn’t work.”

Then he went on to lecture me about the nearest star to the sun (Proxima Centurai: 4 light years and change away from our sun), whether or not there were habitable planets near this star, and he argued the case that just because there may be intelligent life near that star it didn’t mean they were advanced enough to leave their planet.

“Four years, dad,” he said. “At the speed of light? It can’t be done.”

“Wormholes?” I threw out for his consideration.

“Get serious,” was his reply.

My son stuck to his guns regarding UFOs and distances between our solar system and a few of the nearest stars. He reads everything he can get his hands on regarding astronomy and space science. Put a young adult novel in front of him and he will grimace. Lately, he’s been telling me he wants to study astrophysics when he gets to college. If you are going to aim high you might as well keep the stars in mind.

I still hold out hope for the discovery of intelligent life somewhere in my lifetime. Perhaps live to see the day the proverbial UFO muffler falls out of the sky, as one prominent scientist whose name escapes me once said. That night after the we argued the validity of extraterrestrials traversing space I asked my son if he would want to travel to Mars when he is an adult.

“Oh, I have already figured out how old you’d be when I came home if I went when I am thirty,” he informed me. “Don’t worry, dad. You’ll be still be alive when I get back.”

Pretty heavy stuff for a 12-yr-old. When I was his age the Bermuda Triangle was all the rage (well, the Bermuda Triangle and sharks thanks to Jaws). Back then there were a few books on the subject and that was it. These days, our children have more information at their disposal. They can question everything because they can go straight to the source via the internet and find out for themselves. Some parents think this is not a good thing. I welcome it. Even if it means I have little authority over the subjects that holds my son’s interest. One day I’ll get him to pick up a novel and finish it from beginning to end without having to hear him bellyache about how would rather be reading a science book. And if not, at least he can take a few books with him when he boards a spacecraft headed to Mars. I hear it’s a long ride.